KZN SOPA: Premier Zikalala gives 'vague' promises and few updates on previous problems

2020-03-04 18:01
Premier Sihle Zikalala.

Premier Sihle Zikalala. (Gallo Images)

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KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, failed to impress opposition parties who lamented a lack of details regarding plans to turn the province around in his State of the Province Address (SOPA). 

While Zikalala touched on many pertinent matters in his State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Wednesday, he was unclear on updates from the previous year and did not expand on major issues.

Zikalala delivered his address to a packed Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg, where the KZN legislature sat.

The Premier’s address, however, announced a framework would be put in place to hold delinquent KZN departments responsible, after poor audit report for the 2018-19 financial year. 

He also spoke of plans to curb protesting and crime in the province, but was bare on details. 

Speaking on the economy of KZN, he said the province was "trapped in a low-growth cycle" and added growth was difficult to sustain "in the face of weak business and consumer confidence".

He said that despite SA's 29.1% unemployment rate, some jobs were created in the province.

"We are encouraged that we are one of four provinces that show employment growth with a net gain of 39 000 jobs."

He, however, did not say if the jobs were permanent or temporary.

Zikalala said clean finances had to take precedence in the province after the Auditor-General last year warned of growing irregular expenditure. The 2018-19 audits revealed that provincial irregular expenditure had risen from R9.8 billion to R12.4 billion.

"The Auditor-General is clear that we are regressing as a province. We need to reverse this trend. The areas of qualification for each department have been identified."

He said that a Consequence Management Framework would be put in place in all departments by the end of March. "We want to see immediate results."

MECs 'have been assigned tasks and intervention programmes'

He did not say how the framework would operate.

Zikalala failed to give an exact plan for protests in the Ladysmith and Newcastle areas, only saying leaders were tending to matters of concern to residents.

Alfred Duma Municipality in Ladysmith was badly affected by protests last week which saw the town, including schools and businesses, shut down for three days.

"We are aware of recent challenges in the Alfred Duma and Newcastle Municipalities. MECs have been assigned tasks and intervention programmes. We are confident we will bring stability and lasting solutions."

Tacking crime

While not divulging statistics, Zikalala said crime was an issue that government needed to curb. He said that the approach to tackle crime was changing.

"We are now firmly focussed on police stations with the highest crime levels. The issue of alcohol abuse and violent crime is now the focus of our police operations, including patrolling and rapid response."

Leader of the official opposition and IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said he was disappointed with Zikalala's SOPA.

"We have not gotten proper updates on things that were said by the premier's office last year. There is no update on infrastructure projects.

"He instead came with new promises of infrastructure projects. So, these are new promises. Are the old promises not accounted for? It makes the people of KZN lose hope."

He added that Zikalala was too general with his stance on unemployment.

"He became general and said that KZN managed to have more job opportunities."

DA MPL Mbali Ntuli said many of Zikalala's promises were too little, too late.

"Many of the things he mentioned should have started a long time ago. There are no explanations on promises he made before."

Read more on:    sihle zikalala  |  pietermaritzburg

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